GPs and community providers across the country have surpassed £100 million in directly attributable savings since frontline staff began using an innovative technology to prescribe less expensive and more clinically appropriate medicines for individual patients, it has been revealed today.
First introduced into the NHS in 2014 the medicines optimisation solution, called OptimiseRx, is now used in thousands of GP practices, and more than 125 of England’s 195 clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) have implemented the solution. It prompts doctors with messages when more cost-effective or clinically appropriate medications are available and makes patient-specific recommendations based on the patient’s medical record and clinical best practice.
A review of system usage across England, conducted by FDB (First Databank), found that £100 million of savings have been achieved by many thousands of prescribers selecting medicines suggested by the solution.
Phil Verplancke, Head of Product Management at FDB, the company behind the technology, said: “It’s great news for the NHS that CCGs are making prescribing budget savings by allowing frontline staff to make the most of technology. However, the solution is more than saving money, and when you factor in the enormous health benefits and non-cash realisable savings that safer prescribing and best practice can bring, such as avoided hospital admissions, the overall benefit to the NHS and patients is likely to be even greater.”
NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG has made the highest saving of any CCG in the country. Rifat Choudhury, Medicines Management Pharmacist, NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG, said: “FDB OptimiseRx has become a powerful tool that our medicines management team rely on to ensure that patient care is optimal, safe and in line with our local governance framework and drug formulary. Our general practice staff work incredibly hard to select the best possible medication and treatment choice for our patients, and OptimiseRx gives us the added ability of always promoting the most clinically appropriate and cost-effective choice based on fluctuating drug tariffs.”
At peak times OptimiseRx supports more than 1 million prescribing transactions each day for the GP practices, out of hours clinics, and community care settings it serves.
It integrates directly with existing primary care clinical systems, including EMIS Web, TPP SystmOne and Microtest Evolution. This means that busy healthcare professionals are able to receive and act on alerts without logging in and out of multiple clinical systems.
The technology includes thousands of patient-specific algorithms that respond to clinically coded information in the patient record, and is still the only solution supporting medicines management teams with this level of patient specificity. This means that a patient’s medical history, co-morbidities, existing drug regimen, and diagnostic results are considered in messages sent to prescribers. National guidance from NHS England and best practice guidance from organisations including NICE and the MHRA are also taken into account, with information then linked to the latest cost of pharmaceutical products in the market, and details of which medicines are approved for prescription locally.
Data from FDB customers also revealed that there is typically a less expensive alternative in around one in four patient consultations.